|Greta Thunberg appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on September 18, 2019, based upon a photo by Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists|
|Hothouse Earth by Steffen, et al, 2018|
“Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change….”
To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live, in ways that improve the vital signs summarized by our graphs. Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion; therefore, we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies. We suggest six critical and interrelated steps (in no particular order) that governments, businesses, and the rest of humanity can take to lessen the worst effects of climate change. These are important steps but are not the only actions needed or possible.
|World Water Crisis — The New York Times 6 Aug 2019|
Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain the long-term sustainability of the biosphere. We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly. Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality. (emphasis added)
“The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual.”
Last week, Ida Auken, Member of the Danish Parliament (Folketinget), writing for the World Economic Forum borrowed a page from Transition Network to try to imagine the world of 2030 that we could have. She called it “CO-topia.”
It is cheaper for you not to own your own car, which, in turn, reduces congestion so you arrive at your destination more easily and quickly and don’t have to spend time looking for somewhere to park. You can also choose to travel by bike, scooter or public transit.
The air you breathe in the city is cleaner because there are far fewer cars on the streets and the rest are electric – all electricity is green in fact. There is less noise and much more space for parks and pedestrian streets since all the parking space became available. For lunch you can choose from dozens of exciting meals – most of them are plant-based, so you eat more healthily and are more environmentally friendly than when lunch meant choosing between five types of burger.When you buy something, you buy something that lasts; you buy it because you really need it and want to take care of it. But because you buy far fewer things, you can actually afford products of better quality and design.
Single-use plastics are a distant memory. You still grab a to-go coffee, but it comes in a reusable cup that you turn in at the next coffee shop to get your deposit back. The same system applies to plastic bottles and other take-away containers. At home, all of your household appliances have been turned into service contracts. If your dishwasher is about to break down, it is no longer your problem. The service provider already knows about the problem and has sent someone to fix it. When the machine no longer works, the provider picks up the old machine and installs a new one.
People are trying out new types of living arrangements with more shared functions and spaces. This means that more people can afford to live in cities. More houses are built with wood, which makes them nicer to live in and much better for the climate than concrete buildings.
Much of the land formerly used to produce animal feedstock has become available. As people in cities have started to value going into nature, tourism, hunting and angling now offer new types of income for people living in rural areas. Forests and nature are again spreading across the globe. People travel more in their region and by train, so air traffic has started to decline. Most airlines have switched to electrofuels, biofuels or electricity.
Best of all, because citizens have stopped buying so much stuff, they have more money to spend on other things. This new disposable income is spent on services: cleaning, gardening, help with laundry, healthy and easy meals to cook, entertainment, experiences and fabulous new restaurants. All of these things give the average modern person more options and more free time to spend with their friends and families, working out, learning new skills, playing sports or making art – you name it and there’s more time to do it.
If we consider what the future could be, picking up the mantle against climate change may not seem so bad after all.
At the heart of true transformation is always a release of patterns that no longer serve — a dying of a former self or way of being — and simultaneously a living into new patterns — a being born into a new cycle of existence. We are challenged collectively to fundamentally redesign the human presence and impact on Earth within the life-time of the generations alive today. In doing so, we have — as Joanna Macy has put it — the dual role of acting as hospice workers and midwifes. We have to give care to a dying system while simultaneously co-creating a life sustaining human presence on Earth.